Idaho ESL Teacher Job Description and ESOL Certification Requirements

While Idaho’s immigration population is much smaller than many states in the U.S., it’s the steady growth of this population in recent years that’s making headlines. According to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), there were 19,230 English Language Learners (ELLs) in Idaho as of 2018, which comprised about 6.3 percent of the total PreK-12 population. The ELL population in Idaho has grown steadily here since 2015, rising from 13,492 in 2015 to 16,187 in 2016 to 17,849 in 2017.

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The U.S. Department of Education sheds further insight into Idaho’s ELL population, reporting that as of the 2021-2022 school year, Idaho posted teacher shortages among ESL teachers at all grade levels (PreK-12).

If you want to take advantage of the varied ESL teaching opportunities available to Idaho’s educators, it’s time to get that valuable ESL designation on your teaching certificate.

These steps will show you exactly how to earn TESOL certification (Teaching English to Speakers of other Languages) and become an ESL teacher in Idaho:

#1 ButtonEarn a Degree in ESL and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Idaho
#2 ButtonPass the Required Tests
#3 ButtonApply to Become an ESL Teacher in Idaho
#4 ButtonRenew Your Teaching Certificate with ESL Endorsement and Consider Earning a Master’s in ESL to Meet Professional Development Requirements
#5 ButtonLearn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations for Jobs in Idaho



Step 1. Earn a Degree in ESL and Qualify to Become an ESL Teacher in Idaho

In Idaho, learning how to become an ESL teacher involves earning a Standard Instructional Certificate with an ESL (K-12) endorsement. You’ll need to complete a bachelor’s or master’s degree that’s part of an educator preparation program in Idaho. You can also complete an out-of-state educator preparation program that’s accredited by the Council for the Accreditation of Educator Preparation (CAEP).

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You’ll find a nice selection of on-campus and online ESL/ENL (English as a Second Language or English as a New Language), TESOL (Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages), and Bilingual Education programs that will allow you to satisfy the requirements for ESL endorsement. In fact, most Idaho colleges and universities that offer education programs offer an ESL endorsement program option.

To earn ESL certification in Idaho, you’ll major in elementary or secondary education and then choose the ESL endorsement. For example, Idaho State University offers a 20-credit ESL endorsement that’s chosen for either elementary or secondary education majors.

Coursework required to qualify for Idaho’s 20-credit ESL endorsement includes:

  • At least four to nine upper-division semester credits in a modern language other than English
  • English and bilingual methods
  • Cultural diversity
  • Second language acquisition practice and theory
  • Foundations of English and bilingual education
  • State and federal law
  • Testing and the identification of limited English proficiency students
  • At least one to two semester credits in a bilingual practicum
  • At least three semester credits in an elective that is related to bilingual education, such as:
    • Linguistics
    • Critical pedagogy
    • Parent involvement

Already an Idaho certified teacher and want to add an ESL endorsement?

You may also complete the required coursework via an undergraduate certificate, graduate certificate, or master’s in ESL if you want to add ESL alongside your existing teaching license and primary endorsement.

For example, Boise State University offers an MEd in TESOL that’s suitable for both elementary and secondary teachers. Teachers who want to earn a TESOL endorsement must also complete (or have completed) at least 4 credits in a world language.

Already have a bachelor’s degree?

If you have a least a bachelor’s degree in a field related to ESL, you may earn your Idaho teaching certificate by completing a Non-Traditional Educator Preparation Program in an area related to ESL. These are typically programs that offer an intensive pedagogical segment, followed by mentored on-the-job training as an ESL/bilingual teacher.

Learn more about Idaho’s Non-Traditional Educator Preparation Programs here.

Already have a bachelor’s degree in another field?

If you’re a career changer with a bachelor’s degree in another field, you may qualify to complete a master’s degree leading to an initial teaching license. Many schools offering bachelor’s level teacher preparation programs also offer programs at the master’s level that result in an initial teaching license.



Step 2. Pass the Required Tests

After completing your educational program and teaching experience, you must pass the appropriate Praxis II examination, which for aspiring ESL teachers is the English to Speakers of Other Languages. You’ll have two hours to complete this exam’s 120 questions in the following areas:

  • Foundations of Linguistics 18%
  • Foundations of Language Learning 22%
  • Planning and Implementing Instruction 23%
  • Assessment and Evaluation 15%
  • Culture 11%
  • Professionalism and Advocacy 11%

Once you’ve passed the English to Speakers of Other Languages exam, you’ll  be eligible for Idaho teaching endorsements in two areas:

  • English as a New Language (ESL) Grades K-12
  • Bilingual Education Grades K-12

Learn more about Idaho’s testing requirements here.

Background Check

Finally, you must complete a background check before you will be allowed to work with students in the classroom. To accomplish this you will need to submit fingerprint cards and a fee of $28.25 to the Office of Certification, along with:

  • Complete a criminal background check through the Idaho Bureau of Criminal Identification (BCI)
  • Complete an FBI background check
  • Not be listed in the Statewide Sex Offender Register
  • Have no felony convictions



Step 3. Apply to Become an ESL Teacher in Idaho

Once you have earned at least a bachelor’s degree, completed a teacher education program, and passed the required tests you will meet all the elements on an ESL teacher job description and be ready to apply for certification. To do this you will need to complete an Initial Application that includes the following:

  • $75 application fee
  • Official transcripts from your education institution(s) where you completed at least a bachelor’s degree as well as your teacher education program
  • Details about any previous teaching experience, if applicable
  • Score from the English to Speakers of Other Languages exam or National Board Certification

The completed application packet should be mailed to:

State Department of Education
ATTN: Teacher Certification
P.O. Box 83720
Boise, ID 83720-0027

National Board Certification refers to a certification offered by the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS). As a national non-profit organization, NBPTS offers two different certifications depending on the age groups you teach:

  • English as a New Language – Early and Middle Childhood
  • English as a New Language – Early Adolescence Through Young Adulthood

You can become NBPTS-certified once you have gained a few years of experience as an ESL teacher. The certification process requires you to complete a series of assessments and submit a portfolio of evidence which demonstrates teaching excellence as reflected in your students and your professional activities. If you gain National Board Certification, you can be eligible for a $2,000 annual salary bonus.



Step 4. Renew Your Teaching Certificate with ESL Endorsement and Consider Completing Professional Development by Earning a Master’s

The standard teaching certification in Idaho is valid for five years. To renew your Idaho certificate, you’ll need to show proof of the completion of at least six semester credits. At least three of these credits must appear on an official transcript from a college or university, and an additional three credits may be obtained from professional development activities such as in-service trainings (15 contact hours = one in-service training credit).

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For many, earning a master’s in ESL is the preferred way of meeting those professional development hours and developing advanced teaching skills in the process.



Step 5. Learn More About ESL Teacher Salary Expectations for Jobs in Idaho

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reported the following salaries for ESL teachers in Idaho as of May 2020:


Elementary School

Early Career (25th percentile): $40,810
Median: $49,730
Experienced (90th percentile): $72,270


Middle School

Early Career (25th percentile): $43,790
Median: $51,370
Experienced (90th percentile): $74,610


High School

Early Career (25th percentile): $40,970
Median: $50,520
Experienced (90th percentile): $74,070


BLS stats also reveal what ESL teachers are earning in Idaho in some of its largest metro areas, as of May 2020:


Coeur d’Alene (Elementary School)

Early Career (25th percentile): $44,430
Median: $54,170
Experienced (90th percentile): $68,300


Boise City (Middle School)

Early Career (25th percentile): $44,130
Median: $50,730
Experienced (90th percentile): $75,450


Pocatello (High School)

Early Career (25th percentile): $38,390
Median: $49,420
Experienced (90th percentile): $76,780


Once you receive your teaching certification, you can start looking for ESL teacher jobs in Idaho on websites such as SchoolSpring. This site allows you to search for teaching positions by state region and by subject.

You can find more information about continuing education, professional development, and employment opportunities with organizations such as Intermountain TESOL.

Many ESL teachers choose to renew their teaching certifications by working towards a master’s degree in ESL, such as an MATL, M.A.T., or M.Ed. Earning a master’s degree can accomplish several things in addition to making you eligible to renew your teaching certification:

  • Increased professional options and career mobility
  • Increased job stability and institutional appreciation of advanced credentials
  • Improved annual salary
  • Improved teaching skills that can directly translate into better student achievement and performance reviews


May 2020 Bureau of Labor Statistics salary and job market trends for elementary school teachers, middle school teachers, and secondary school teachers represent state data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Data accessed June 2021.

Student population data from the National Center for Education Statistics represents English language learners (ELL) enrolled in public elementary and secondary schools in the fall of 2018.

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